Curiosity is a fundamental human trait. Everyone is curious, but the obxt and degree of that curiosity is different depending on the person and the situation. Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio was so curious about curiosity that he wrote a book about it. He recently appeared on the Knowledge@Wharton show on SiriusXM channel 111 to talk about what he learned in the course of writing his book, Why? What Makes Us Curious.

好奇心是人類的一個基本特征。每個人都有好奇心,但是好奇的對象和程度卻是不同的,這取決于個體和情境。天體物理學家和作家馬里奧·利維奧對好奇心很好奇,所以他寫了一本書《我們為何如此好奇》。最近利維奧來到我們的節目,與我們探討他在寫這本書的過程中學到的東西,為什么,是什么讓我們感到好奇。

Knowledge@Wharton: What is it that really drives our curiosity?

到底是什么在驅使著我們的好奇心?

Mario Livio: Curiosity has several kinds or flavors, and they are not driven by the same things. There is something that has been dubbed perceptual curiosity. That’s the curiosity we feel when something surprises us or when something doesn’t quite agree with what we know or think we know. That is felt as an unpleasant state, as an adversity state. It’s a bit like an itch that we need to scratch. That’s why we try to find out the information in order to relieve that type of curiosity.

馬里奧·利維奧:好奇心分幾種,有幾層特征,而且它們并不是由相同的事物驅使的。有一種叫做知覺性好奇。當有些事情令我們感到驚奇,或者有些事情并不符合我們的認知或自以為知的,我們就會產生這種好奇心。這是一種令人不悅的狀態,如處逆境。就像身上哪里感覺癢,必須得撓一下。所以我們必須去找到答案,才能緩解心中的好奇。
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On the other hand, there is something that has been dubbed epistemic curiosity, which is a pleasurable state associated with an anticipation of reward. That’s our level of knowledge. That’s what drives all scientific research. It drives many artworks. It drives education and things like that.

另一方面,還有一種好奇心叫知識性好奇,這是一種愉快的狀態,帶著對獎賞的期待。這是我們在知識層面的好奇心,也是一些科學研究背后的驅動因素。它推動了藝術品的誕生,推動著教育的發展,以及等等此類事物。

Knowledge@Wharton: There’s a basic difference between being unpleasant or unhappy and being happy. I would think many people feel both of those things pretty much every day of their lives, correct?

感到不愉快、不高興和感到高興這兩者之間有著本質的差別。我覺得大多數人在他們生命中幾乎每一天都能感覺到這些情緒,對嗎?
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Livio: You’re absolutely right. You see something that you completely did not expect or is very ambiguous, and you feel somewhat unpleasant about this. On the other hand, you try to learn something new every day, and that is a very pleasurable state that gives you a reward. So yes, everybody feels both of these things almost every day.

利維奧:沒錯。當你看到一些完全出乎你意料的事情,或者非常模棱兩可的事情,你心里總會產生一種不快。另一方面,當你每天都嘗試著去學習一些新東西,這是一種非常愉悅的狀態,它為你帶來了獎勵。所以,是的,我們每個人幾乎每天都能感覺到這些情緒。

Knowledge@Wharton: Is there an element of curiosity that is enhanced by living in the digital age?

生活在數字時代,我們的好奇心是否在某些方面加強了?

Livio: There are some people who have the feeling that because we have information literally at our fingertips, maybe we’re becoming less curious. But that’s not true. There are two things to remember. One is that when we do scientific research, we try to find answers to questions where we don’t know the answers yet. Therefore, you cannot find those answers on the internet or Wikipedia.

利維奧:有些人覺得現在我們需要的信息幾乎都可以信手拈來,也許我們變得沒那么好奇了。但事實并不是這樣的。我們要記住兩件事情。第一,當我們做科學研究的時候,我們是在為那些還沒有答案的問題尋找答案。所以,你從網上或者維基百科上是找不到這些答案的。

The other thing is that what the internet allows us to do is to satisfy what has been dubbed specific curiosity, namely you want to know a very particular detail. Who wrote this or that book? What was the name of the actor in that film? The digital age allows you to find the answer very quickly. That’s actually good because you don’t want to spend all your time trying to answer a question like that. I don’t know how you feel, but I sometimes can be really obsessed by not knowing the answer to something very, very simple like that.

第二,因特網可以滿足的是我們的具體好奇心,也就是說你想知道一個非常具體的東西,因特網就會告訴你。這本書或者那本書是誰寫的?那部電影里的那個演員叫什么名字?數字時代使我們可以非常迅速地找到這些問題的答案。這其實是件好事,因為你不想把自己的時間都用在回答這些問題上。我不知道你的感覺,但我有時候真的會因為不知道一些非常簡單的問題的答案而抓耳撓腮。

Knowledge@Wharton: That’s almost a natural component of who we are. There are times when we become obsessed with wanting to know what that information is.

這幾乎是人性中一個天然的組成部分。有時候我們真的千方百計地想要知道那個信息到底是什么。
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Livio: That’s right. In that sense, the digital age helps us because we can find that information, and that may drive us to look for something else about this. And that would drive perhaps epistemic curiosity, which is this love of knowledge and wanting to learn new things.

利維奧:是的。從這方面來說,數字時代幫助我們找到了那個信息,或者還可以促使我們去查找一些其他信息。這可能就會激發出我們的知識性好奇,也就是對知識的熱愛,想要學習一些新的東西。

Knowledge@Wharton: Do you think love of knowledge is truly the driving force behind curiosity and the other pieces are part of the spider web off the core?

你覺得對知識的熱愛真的是好奇心背后的推動因素嗎,其他的只是次要因素?
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Livio: Not necessarily. There have been all kinds of experiments in neuroscience with functional MRI, where they make people curious then put them in these MRI machines and see which parts of their brains are activated. It was found that this perceptual curiosity, the one when you’re surprised or find something unexpected, is associated with activations of the parts in our brain that usually work in conflict or when you’re hungry or thirsty. On the other hand, the parts that are associated with learning new things really activate the parts that are associated with anticipation of reward, like when somebody’s offering you a piece of chocolate or when you sit in a theater and you’re waiting for the curtain to go up.

利維奧:也不盡然。神經科學領域用功能性核磁共振成像(MRI)做過各種各樣的實驗,他們先讓人們感到好奇,然后把這些人放到MRI機器中,看看他們大腦中哪部分被激活了。研究發現知覺性好奇,也就是當你感到驚訝或者發現一些出乎意料的事情時產生的那種好奇心所激活的大腦領域,通常與你感到饑餓或口渴時被激活的大腦部件是相互沖突的。另一方面,大腦中與學習新東西相關的部分的確會激活與對獎賞的期待相關的那部分,就像當有個人給了你一塊巧克力,或者當你坐在劇院,等待幕布拉開一樣。

Knowledge@Wharton: When you think historically, there have been world leaders who have wanted to snuff out curiosity. I’m thinking particularly of Fidel Castro. Some people would say President Trump is trying to do that. Have you seen that as a component in the world?

當你從歷史的角度思考,你會發現世界上有些領導人想要扼殺人們的好奇心。我想到了菲德爾·卡斯特羅。有些人認為特朗普總統也想做同樣的事情。你是否覺得這也是這個世界的一部分?

Livio: Of course. We all know about the Middle Ages, the medi times when curiosity was almost taken out of existence. It was mostly the church that wanted to convey to the masses the feeling that everything worth knowing is already known. They built walls around all types of knowledge and really oppressed curiosity in this way.

利維奧:當然了。我們都知道中世紀時期,好奇心幾乎被趕盡殺絕。因為教堂想向大眾傳達一個信息,任何值得知道的事情都已經被人們知道了。他們把所有的知識束之高閣,通過這種方式壓制人們的好奇心。

You mentioned a few leaders, but it’s not just leaders. The Taliban destroyed works of art. ISIS is destroying works of art in Palmyra, in Syria. There have been book burnings over the years. The Nazis made a degenerate art exhibit where they tried to deface all the modern painters. There definitely have been oppressive regimes and ideologies that try to stifle curiosity.

你提到了幾個領導人,但做這些事情的可不只是領導者。比如塔利班摧毀了藝術品,ISIS正在毀滅敘利亞巴爾米拉的藝術品。過去也有焚書的行為。納粹曾舉辦過一個頹廢藝術展,他們試圖丑化所有當代畫家的面貌。世界上肯定還有一些高壓政體和意識形態,試圖抑制人們的好奇心。

Knowledge@Wharton: What I found interesting in the book is that you note there really isn’t one definition of curiosity.

在這本書中我發現了一個有趣的地方,你認為關于好奇心并沒有一個真正的定義。

Livio: Yes. I mentioned already two of those types of curiosity: perceptual and epistemic. There is also something that has been dubbed diversive curiosity. That’s the thing when you see young people constantly on their smartphone, looking for text messages to ward off boredom, I think.

利維奧:是的,我已經提到了兩種好奇心:知覺性好奇和知識性好奇。還有一種不定性好奇。當你看到年輕人不停地刷他們的智能手機,尋找文字信息來排遣內心的無聊,我覺得這就是不定性好奇。

Knowledge@Wharton: Curiosity has always been seen as a very good thing because you’re trying to gain knowledge. There is a negative to diversive curiosity because your attention is turned away. But there is the element of searching or looking for information. It’s kind of walking a fine line there.

好奇心一直被看到一件非常好的事情,因為這表明你想要獲得新的知識。但是不定性好奇也有些負面影響,因為它會轉移你的注意力??墒峭瑫r你也在查找或者尋找信息,這里好像有些難以取得平衡。

Livio: You’re absolutely right. They’re also looking for information, and also it serves as a social element. They connect with friends. They connect with people, sometimes across countries. It isn’t all negative.

利維奧:是的。他們也在尋找信息,而且這也充當了一種社交功能。他們與朋友建立聯系,與其他人建立關系,有時候還會跨越國度,所以也不全是負面的。

Knowledge@Wharton: Do you think it affects curiosity in general because it has become such an attractive piece to our society? It’s changed the communication skill. Instead of face to face, it’s fingertip to fingertip.

你覺得這是否會在整體上影響我們的好奇心,因為電子設備已經成了我們這個社會中非常具有吸引力的東西?它改變了人們交流的方式?,F在人們已經不是面對面交流,而是從指尖到指尖。
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Livio: That may have eventually some negative consequences if people just stay at home and connect through all kinds of digital devices. I can see all kinds of shortcomings for that type of a society. But at the same time, the really important questions like advances in science and so on cannot be found through digital devices.

利維奧:如果人們都呆在家里,通過各種各樣的電子設備溝通的話,這最終可能的確會產生一些負面結果。我能夠想象到當社會發展到那個程度后,各種各樣的缺點都會顯露出來。但是與此同時,有些非常重要的問題,比如科技的進步,這些問題你都不能通過電子設備找到答案。
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Knowledge@Wharton: You take time in the book to really delve into the science of this. Tell us what you found and why science has been so intrigued by this.

你在書中還深入探討了好奇心的科學。告訴我們你發現了什么,為什么科學界對好奇心如此著迷?

Livio: If you’re a curious person, then you ought to also be curious about curiosity itself. This has been research by psychologists, cognitive scientists and neuroscientists. There are two parts to this. One is to understand our state of mind when we are curious. I alluded to that in that one type of curiosity creates an unpleasant sensation and another creates an anticipation of reward. It was found that especially the epistemic curiosity, when we try to learn new things, it really follows the paths of reward of dopamine, which is this neural transmitter that is associated with reward in our brains.

利維奧:如果你是一個好奇的人,那么你就應該對好奇本身感到好奇。心理學家、認知科學家、神經科學家都做過這方面的研究。研究有兩個部分。首先,了解當我們感到好奇時,我們處于一種怎樣的心理狀態。我提到了有一種好奇心會讓人感覺不快,另一種好奇心卻會讓人產生對獎賞的期待。研究發現,特別是這種知識性好奇,當我們試圖學習新的東西時,它真的會遵循多巴胺獎勵路徑,也就是我們大腦中與獎賞聯系在一起的一種神經遞質。

Knowledge@Wharton: I think there are people who are naturally curious. It almost is ingrained in their personality as they come into the world. Is that the case?

我覺得有些人他們天生就很好奇。當他們來到這個世界時,好奇心就嵌在了他們的人格里。是這樣嗎?

Livio: Of course. Most psychological traits, and curiosity is no exception, have a genetic component to them. The fact that some people are much more curious than others largely has to do with their genetics. But, as in all cases, genetics is never the whole story. In the same way as nature versus nurture question, the two of them play a role. You can enhance curiosity by doing certain things, by asking questions, by encouraging people to be curious about things. Or you can suppress curiosity as we just noted, sometimes by regime, sometimes by ideologies, and so on.

利維奧:當然了。大多數心理因素都帶有遺傳特征,好奇心也不例外。有些人就是比其他人好奇心強,這在很大程度上與他們的基因有關。但是,總的來說,基因并不能解釋一切。就像“先天對后天”一樣,這兩個因素都有自己的作用。你可以通過做某些事情來加強自己的好奇心,比如問問題,鼓勵人們對一些事情產生好奇心?;蛘吣阋部梢砸种坪闷嫘?,就像我們剛才說的,有的時候是通過政體,有的時候是通過意識形態等等。

People have something in them which they are born with, but the environment can help or be against enhancing this curiosity. Just to give an example, if you are the children of refugees that have to cross countries and look for food all the time, you may be curious about where do you find your next meal and not about contemplating the meaning of life.

人們身上有些與生俱來的東西,但是周圍的環境也可以幫助加強或抑制好奇心。舉個例子,如果你是難民的孩子,你們必須跨越國界,為了生存尋找食物,那么你的好奇心就集中在從哪里找到自己的下一頓飯,而不是思考生活的意義。

Knowledge@Wharton: With all of the innovation that goes on right now, it feels like we’re constantly looking to improve so many aspects of our lives. Is it fair to say that curiosity is one of the things that might be hard to improve?

隨著當前社會出現了各種各樣的創新技術,似乎我們總在不斷地改進生活的很多方面。是否可以說,好奇心是難以提升的事物之一?
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Livio: No. I don’t think it is hard to improve. You cannot change your genetic makeup, but through the education system you can actually improve on curiosity. I’ll give you a very simple example. If you teach science to young children, don’t start by trying to teach them things that they may not be interested in. Start with something they’re already curious about, like dinosaurs. Start with dinosaurs and then find interesting ways to connect from that to other concepts you would like them to learn, rather than starting from the beginning with something they may not be interested in. Most people know that very young children are extremely curious. They constantly ask questions. That’s largely because they especially want to understand cause and effect. They want to understand how the world around them is functioning so that they make fewer errors.

不是,我覺得要想提高好奇心并不難。雖然你不能改變自己的基因組成,但是通過教育系統,你的好奇心的確是可以加強的。我給你舉一個簡單的例子。如果你教小孩子科學,不要一上來就講一些他們可能不感興趣的東西。從他們好奇的事物開始講起,比如恐龍。先從恐龍開始,然后通過一些有趣的方式,把恐龍跟其他你想要他們學習的概念聯系起來。大多數人都知道小孩子是非常好奇的。他們總是有各種各樣的問題。這是因為他們非常想了解這個世界的因果關系。他們想知道周圍的世界是怎么運轉的,他們怎樣做才會犯更少的錯誤。

Some people think that as we grow up we lose our curiosity, and that’s not entirely true. We do lose some elements of diversive curiosity or the ability to be surprised. But actually epistemic curiosity, that love of knowledge, appears to be roughly constant across all ages.

有些人認為,隨著我們逐漸成長,我們就會失去自己的好奇心,這并非完全正確。我們的確會失去一些不定性好奇心,或者失去感到驚訝的能力。但是知識性好奇,我們對于知識的熱愛,不管在哪個年齡階段幾乎都是一樣的。

Knowledge@Wharton: When you are older, you do not take the risks that you did when you were, say, 20 or 30. But I would think that your curiosity doesn’t wane that much when you’re older, correct?

當你年長的時候,你就不會像二三十歲那樣冒險。但是我覺得你的好奇心并沒有因為你的年齡增長而消減,對嗎?

Livio: Correct. Your love of knowledge remains and your willingness to learn new things appears to be constant across all ages. People at very old ages are still willing to learn things, to discover new things, to read. The topics in which you are curious about may change with age or with time or with whatever occupation you are in. Different people are curious about different things, and the level of intensity of their curiosity may be different.

利維奧:是的,你對知識的熱愛仍在,不管處在哪個年齡階段,你還是愿意學習新的東西。有些年紀很大的人仍然愿意學習,探索新的事物,閱讀。令你好奇的事物可能會隨著年齡的增長、時間的變化,或者你從事的職業而變化。不同的人會對不同的事情好奇,他們好奇的程度也是不同的。

Knowledge@Wharton: Are kids more curious than adults?

孩子是否比成年人更好奇?

Livio: Kids are more curious in terms of diversity than perceptual curiosity. But I think in terms of epistemic curiosity, adults are as curious. This probably all started for survival. We needed to understand very well our environment in order to be able to survive, so there was an evolutionary pressure to this. But somehow humans are always more curious than just for mere survival. I’m an astrophysicist. What we study in science will probably become applicable at one point, but it is not applicable at the moment. We’re still very curious about this because we want to understand everything around us.

利維奧:孩子比大人更好奇體現在不定性好奇方面,而不是知覺性好奇。但我覺得就知識性好奇而言,大人跟孩子是一樣的。這一切可能都是為了生存。我們需要非常了解我們周圍的環境才能生存,所以是進化的壓力讓我們產生好奇心。 但不知何故,人類總是比單純的生存更有好奇心。我是天體物理學家。我們在科學中研究的東西可能會在某一時刻適用,但目前并不適用。我們仍然對此很好奇,因為我們想了解我們周圍的一切。

Knowledge@Wharton: What is it that makes you curious?

哪些事物讓你好奇?

Livio: I’m really curious about the universe, things that relate to the beginning of the universe, to the fate of the universe, the nature of the dark energy that is pushing the cosmic expansion to accelerate. But I’m also interested in things like how did life emerge in the universe, the nature of consciousness, many things.

利維奧:我對宇宙很好奇,比如宇宙的起源、宇宙的命運、使宇宙加速膨脹的暗物質。但是我也對生命感到好奇,比如生命是如何在宇宙中產生的,意識的本質,等等很多其他事物。

Knowledge@Wharton: We talked about the potential for curiosity to be enhanced further. Is that an expectation of yours?

我們談到了好奇心有可能進一步增強。你也是這樣認為的嗎?

Livio: The nature of scientific research, but sometimes even artistic contemplation, is that the answer to every question just brings about a new question. Sometimes the new question is even more intriguing than the original question, so you may become more curious about it.

利維奧:科學研究的本質就是每個問題的答案都會引出一個新的問題,有時候關于藝術的沉思也是這樣。有時候新的問題比原來的問題還要有趣,這樣你可能會對它更好奇。